A novel ex vivo immunoproteomic approach characterising Fasciola hepatica tegumental antigens identified using immune antibody from resistant sheep

Timothy C. Cameron, Ira Cooke, Pierre Faou, Hayley Toet, David Piedrafita, Neil Young, Vignesh Rathinasamy, Travis Beddoe, Glenn Anderson, Robert Dempster, Terry W. Spithill

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11 Citations (Scopus)


A more thorough understanding of the immunological interactions between Fasciola spp. and their hosts is required if we are to develop new immunotherapies to control fasciolosis. Deeper knowledge of the antigens that are the target of the acquired immune responses of definitive hosts against both Fasciola hepatica and Fasciola gigantica will potentially identify candidate vaccine antigens. Indonesian Thin Tail sheep express a high level of acquired immunity to infection by F. gigantica within 4. weeks of infection and antibodies in Indonesian Thin Tail sera can promote antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity against the surface tegument of juvenile F. gigantica in vitro. Given the high protein sequence similarity between F. hepatica and F. gigantica, we hypothesised that antibody from F. gigantica-infected sheep could be used to identify the orthologous proteins in the tegument of F. hepatica. Purified IgG from the sera of F. gigantica-infected Indonesian Thin Tail sheep collected pre-infection and 4. weeks p.i. were incubated with live adult F. hepatica ex vivo and the immunosloughate (immunoprecipitate) formed was isolated and analysed via liquid chromatography-electrospray ionisation-tandem mass spectrometry to identify proteins involved in the immune response. A total of 38 proteins were identified at a significantly higher abundance in the immunosloughate using week 4 IgG, including eight predicted membrane proteins, 20 secreted proteins, nine proteins predicted to be associated with either the lysosomes, the cytoplasm or the cytoskeleton and one protein with an unknown cellular localization. Three of the membrane proteins are transporters including a multidrug resistance protein, an amino acid permease and a glucose transporter. Interestingly, a total of 21 of the 38 proteins matched with proteins recently reported to be associated with the proposed small exosome-like extracellular vesicles of adult F. hepatica, suggesting that the Indonesian Thin Tail week 4 IgG is either recognising individual proteins released from extracellular vesicles or is immunoprecipitating intact exosome-like extracellular vesicles. Five extracellular vesicle membrane proteins were identified including two proteins predicted to be associated with vesicle transport/ exocytosis (VPS4, vacuolar protein sorting-associated protein 4b and the Niemann-Pick C1 protein). RNAseq analysis of the developmental transcription of the 38 immunosloughate proteins showed that the sequences are expressed over a wide abundance range with 21/38 transcripts expressed at a relatively high level from metacercariae to the adult life cycle stage. A notable feature of the immunosloughates was the absence of cytosolic proteins which have been reported to be secreted markers for damage to adult flukes incubated in vitro, suggesting that the proteins observed are not inadvertent contaminants leaking from damaged flukes ex vivo. The identification of tegument protein antigens shared between F. gigantica and F. hepatica is beneficial in terms of the possible development of a dual purpose vaccine effective against both fluke species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-567
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Antigen
  • EV
  • Exosome
  • Fasciola gigantica
  • Fasciola hepatica
  • Immune sera
  • Resistant sheep
  • Tegument proteins

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